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Showbiz: COSTA DEL SQUARE; EastEnders takes a trip out to Spain.

IT'S usually good fun when soap casts leave behind the dreary British weather and scenery and jet off to sunnier spots.

This week Peggy Mitchell says adios to Albert Square as the action in EastEnders moves to Spain. She heads out there on learning that ex-husband Frank is dead. But it comes as something of a shock when the man himself turns up, lurking outside the cemetery at his own funeral!

Peggy is understandably furious. As actress Barbara Windsor says: 'She's come all the way to Spain to bury Frank and he doesn't even have the decency to be dead!'

It turns out that Frank is up to his usual dodgy deals and has decided to lie low for a while by faking his own death.

His new partner in crime is glamorous redhead Krystal, played by Rula Lenska, which also gets Peggy's back up. She is annoyed that Frank is living the good life after running out on her and swindling their business - she had to sell the Queen Vic to pay the tax bills.

But however annoyed Peggy is to see Frank again, Barbara was delighted to be reunited with Mike Reid. She also relished working with Rula, as the two women are like chalk and cheese on screen together.

The Spanish week also reintroduces an old character, played by a new face. Wayward daughter Sam Mitchell was played by Danniella Westbrook, who left the soap to battle her cocaine addiction, but now Kim Medcalf steps in.

She may look different, but it seems that the wild child hasn't changed her character much. Peggy wants to track down Sam while she's in Spain, but gets another shock when she discovers her daughter working in a lap-dancing club.

Despite the rows, Sam is secretly relieved to be able to turn to her mum, as her life's in a mess. She agrees to return to Walford, despite the fact she has hooked up with Krystal's handsome son Jason (James Taylor). He is smitten with her and tries to buy her affections with a flashy gift. But when faced with the option of sun, sea and romance in Spain or debts, shouting and rain in Albert Square, Sam inexplicably chooses the latter.

CAPTION(S):

SHOCK... Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell DODGY DEALERS... Rula Lenska with Mike Reid, and (right) Kim Medcalf as the new-look Sam
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Title Annotation:Preview
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 27, 2002
Words:394
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